That Time Charlie Duke Dreamed He Found Himself Dead on the Moon
Updated: Aug 22
A few months before the launch of Apollo 16, lunar module pilot Charlie Duke was stricken with a high fever while training in Hawaii and had a strange dream: He and the mission commander, John Young, were driving their lunar roving vehicle (LRV) on the moon towards North Ray Crater, which was about four miles from their landing site. Everything was going nominal until they found a set of tracks identical to theirs in an unexplored region. Curious, Charlie asked Mission Control if they could follow the tracks and Houston approved. The two drove almost three miles until they approached a rover with two figures sitting in it. They quickly realized the figures were astronauts like themselves. Young and Duke turned on the TV camera and ran over to the site to investigate. The rover was almost an exact replication of their LRV its two passengers remained unmoving. Their sun visors were down so their faces weren't visible. Charlie wondered what they looked like- maybe they were extraterrestrial visitors who had died exploring the Earth's moon. He reached out to the one in the passenger seat and carefully slid up the visor. "Alien" was as far from the truth as it gets. He was looking at something infinitely more familiar; he was looking at himself. The one next to it was Young. Meanwhile, Houston told he and John they had absolutely no explanation for any of this but to bring back as much as they could for research. Unable to fit the bodies (yes, the physical dead bodies) into the LM, they brought back pieces of the suits and rover. Back on Earth, the lab dated the material to be 100,000 years old. Charlie Duke and John Young, the fearless astronauts of Apollo 16, were dead for one-hundred centuries on the surface of the moon.
On April 20, 1972, when Apollo 16's lunar module Orion was only one mile above the surface of the moon preparing for its descent into the Descartes region, Charlie Duke looked north to see if there were any tracks...
Charlie Duke with the Lunar Roving Vehicle, April 22, 1972 (apolloarchive.com)
As of 2023, Charlie is still the youngest person to ever set foot on the moon. He was thirty-six years old. He is now eighty-six.
Duke, Charlie M. "Moonwalker: The True Story of an Astronaut Who Found that the Moon Wasn't High Enough to Satisfy His Desire for Success." Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1990